I missed yesterday’s Trek group ride, as we opted to head over to Disney World and “enjoy” the Labor Day Weekend crowds. As expected, the parks were packed, but being seasonal pass holders, we can cherry pick what we want to ride, so we just rode whatever my son wanted to ride…btw it was especially fun as he is now tall enough to ride Space Mountain and Mission Space, which he both loved! We left relatively early so that I could get in some rest for the todays cycling event, the Moe’s Labor Day Fun Ride, presented by Naples Velo.
The day started early, perhaps too early as I still had a “Disney Hangover” (if you do not know what this is, just go to any Disney World Park on a major holiday break when its extremely hot, muggy and crowded) and only about five hours of sleep. After a quick breakfast of champions (ok it was Special K not Wheaties), I lubed up, tossed on my kit, packed my bike and gear into the car and drove down to Naples, where the event would begin.
I arrived at Moe’s at 7:00 AM to find the lot filled with over a hundred or so cyclists in various stages of unloading their bikes and prepping for the event. I quickly found a parking spot and began my own unloading and pre ride check. Once I had the bike ready, I meandered over to the the signup tent, which by now had a good sized line, and eventually made my way to the front of the line. I signed in and paid the registration fee, which by the way, all procedes collected were going to the Naples Velo Youth Development Program.
There were three rides offered, The first being the 40 mile long no speed limit group, aptly named the “Burrito Group”. The second was a 40 mile long 20-22 MPH (think B group) named the “Nacho Group”, and the last was a shortened 20 mile casual ride with no associated Mexican cuisine name which I named the Jalapeño Group (I didn’t want them to feel left out). Knowing well I am still a B rider, I signed up for the Nacho Group.
After a quick pre-ride briefing, everyone gathered up into their respective groups, and paraded out of the lot in an eye dazzling, Technicolor splendor of spandex and cacophony of free-wheeling bikes. It really was quite a sight as we were a few hundred strong. Traffic basically stopped and just waved to us as we started the ride.
We turned right onto Creekside Blvd as one large peloton, gently riding for about a mile as we warmed up our legs. As soon as we turned right on Goodlette-Frank Road, the Burrito Group sped off while my Nacho Group settled into a nice 20 MPH pace leaving the Jalapeños behind. We turned left onto Vanderbuilt Beach Road increasing our speed and forming two parallel pace lines as there was a constant 15-17 MPH southern wind. I still get a thrill riding in synchronie just a few inches from the rider in front of me. It really is amazing how a group of so many riders moves as one singular mass.
A left onto Logan Blvd gave us a favorable tailwind so we picked up the pace even more. Our dual pace line was now yo-yoing and stretching out quite a bit, but there were no obvious gaps in it. Not wanting to get split off from the head of the Nacho Group, I took advantage of the wind and proceded to pass up a good number of riders, eventually finding a solid spot near the front of the pack. A red light at Immokalee Rd quickly collapsed the elongated group and gave us a nice little water break.
When the light turned green, we were all off to the races. Our pace quickly shot up to the mid twenties as our dual pace line was now a single elongated line. Gaps started to form in the line and within a few miles our Nacho Group was divided into at least three groups. I kept myself glued to the last wheel of the leading group, taking full advantage of any and all drafting opportunities behind a rider in a very unique, and oh so cool, Bert and Ernie jersey. I was using the big gears, maintaining a lower cadence than I am used to, but zipping along at 24 to 25 MPH clip with little effort.
Slowly but surely, riders started drifting back and falling off our group. The gap between our leading Nacho Group and the second group had widened to at least 400 meters (oops 1/4 mile…I’m starting to sound like a cyclist now). Being the lantern rouge of this group, I saw many riders attempt to stay on but eventually drop off and find themselves at the mercy of the wind until the splintered group eventually reincorporated them.
One particular rider in purple was slowly loosing ground. As I passed her, she latched onto my wheel for a bit. While there I heard her saying what sounded like my name. Not really knowing any riders by name (sure there were some familiar faces from last weeks Trek ride), I looked over my shoulder to see who it was. As soon as I did, I recognized her from last weeks ride and greeted her. She answered “I thought that ass looked familiar”…What? I chuckled and realized she had a point. You spend a lot of time basically staring at a persons ass while riding, so you do eventually get to recognize riders by there butts. Unfortunately, our little reunion ended quickly as she was unable to stay up with us.
We turned right onto Wilson Blvd. By now the splintered Nacho’s were at least a half mile or so behind us. These next three miles were against a headwind, but our group just tightened up never dropping below 22 MPH. With no bike lane on this leg of the ride and on a single lane road, we had to share the road with motorists. being the last one in the group it was my responsibility to inform the other riders of upcoming traffic. Needless to say it got a little old yelling “car back” every few minutes. Luckily this leg was only a few miles and in short order we were back in a bike lane as we turned right onto Golden Gate Blvd.
My job as lantern rouge ended at this point as two riders from the group asked to be the trailing riders. I conceded my position and stuck like glue behind the amusing smiles of Bert and Ernie. The next 5 miles were a very quick and smooth ride with just an occasional calling out for road debris. We turned right onto Collier Blvd for a mile and then found ourselves back on Vanderbuilt Road for the 7 mile home stretch back to Moe’s.
One hour, forty-five minutes, and 34 miles after our parade-like departure from Moe’s we found ourselves turning back into the parking lot. The Burrito group was already heading into Moe’s for some breakfast and refreshments (free perks for participating in the ride….thank you Moe’s). I stowed my bike and gear back into the car, put on a comfortable pair of sandals and headed over to a cyclist packed Moe’s for a wonderful egg, black bean and bacon burrito (everything tastes good after a ride) and some good conversation about the ride.
All in all, a very fun morning for a good cause. Event riding is much more fun than I had anticipated. My only regret is that Señor J missed it (he’s on vacation so I’m sure that more than makes up for it) and that the ride was over all too soon. Luckily there are many more rides upcoming.
Route: Moe’s Labor Day Fun Ride
Ride Time: 1:45:18
Stopped Time: 8:54
Distance: 34.00 miles
Average: 19.38 miles/h
Fastest Speed: 25.52 miles/h
Ascent: 93 feet
Descent: 33 feet